Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will have an expanded international role, and this means that over the Internet, more language diversity is expected, just as it was announced that web domains have reached nearly the 300 million mark.
ICANN is a nonprofit that maintains the technical stability of the online world, and with its international supervision being expanded, this means that non-American languages and content other than English will be boosted. The U.S. Department of Commerce will surrender their control over Internet domain numbers and names to them in the near future.
International domain names
Out of the 300 million domain names across the globe, only about two percent are IDNs (internationalized domain names) that use non-Roman characters like the Chinese writing system or Arabic script. As an example, the Japanese people use google.co.jp for their searches today, but Google could now use a new domain suffix they own, which in Japanese is pronounced as ‘guguru’.
IDN supporters say that its use encourages multilingualism over the net, helps rising economies and is complementary to the scripts used in the content of the web pages. Still, it has a long way to go because the universal acceptance is still low. Mobile devices, email servers and browsers are not yet prepared for the complexities of non-Roman characters.
New URL suffixes
The novel suffixes for URLs in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were launched in 2010. At that time, Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s CEO said that their implementation is highly significant because it is the start of the changes that will happen to the online landscape and it’s something that will provide greater Internet access and usability to more people around the world, regardless of their language and their location.
Moving away from .com
Regulating the mechanics of public Internet is under the helm of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It is the agency that makes sure that when people type “google” or “google.com” they will arrive at the same page.
Currently, the number of top-level domains (TLDs) around the world is 1,070, whereas the original generic ones were only .gov, .com, .edu, .org, .mil, .net and .int. Then more TLDs came about, such as .us, .uk, .biz and so on and last year, the number increased and web users now encounter other TLDs such as .lol, .black or .google. For the conservatives, it was polemical but ICANN said that the move increased competition and variety and supported minority voices over cyberspace.
Some of the original TLDs were never used while others were retired like .zr for Zaire and .cs for Czechoslovakia, but the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) had approved 45 new country IDNs, with about 1.5 million web addresses using the common suffixes for China, Taiwan and Russia. It now has become a source of pride for an organization, city or country.